Ben Stokes will not travel with the England squad to Australia on October 28 but no final decision on his involvement in the Ashes has been taken, the England and Wales Cricket Board said on Friday.
Test vice-captain Stokes was arrested last month on suspicion of causing actual bodily harm and suspended from internationals until further notice following an apparent fight outside a nightclub.
He was initially included in the Ashes squad despite reportedly injuring his hand in the incident that led to his arrest. “Ben Stokes will not travel at this stage, though no final decision has been taken on his involvement in Australia,” read a statement from the ECB.
Stokes was suspended by England a day after video footage was published by The Sun of the incident. The two witnesses police have called on to come forward were allegedly present prior to the fracas that took place outside a Bristol nightclub. The 26-year-old was released without charge but remains under investigation.
The board confirmed the awarding of central contracts for Test and limited-overs cricket, with Stokes handed contracts for both. Opener Alex Hales, who was also suspended mid-way through the West Indies series, has been retained as a limited-overs specialist. “With the Ashes just around the corner, it’s important to give the players, the coaching staff and supporters some clarity around a complex situation,” said director of England Cricket Andrew Strauss.
“We have spoken to Ben and assured him that our decision in no way prejudges the outcome of the ongoing police investigation or cricket discipline commission process, as can be seen by the award of central contracts,” Strauss added.
In a separate matter, the ECB has also fined and issued a formal written warning to Jonny Bairstow, Jake Ball and Liam Plunkett following a disciplinary investigation into behaviour during the recent one-day series against the West Indies.